The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu says Nigeria must key into skills acquisition and vocational training if it wants to enhance the employability of youths.
Adamu said this at the sixth Industry Stakeholders Consultation on the Nigerian Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) in Lagos.
The event was organised by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
Adamu said such a step in the country would also help to reduce poverty and social vices while improving quality of life.
He said that engaging the youth meaningfully in the area of skills acquisition would also promote peace, enhance stability and democracy in the country.
According to him, the ministry intends to play a key role in the realisation of government’s developmental agenda.
He said it would do so by ensuring that products of the various skills development programme in both the formal and non-formal settings are able to perform on their job roles.
Adamu said that this would assist in actualising the aspirations concerning the country’s economy, especially in the world of works.
“However, this cannot be achieved without the active participation of the industry operators in the design, development, delivery and quality assurance of the system,’’ he said
Adamu, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Sonny Echono, said that the ministry, in one of its strategic plans, had identified the skills gap in the country’s educational system.
He said this had hindered Nigerian graduates at all levels from competing favourably in the global market.
Adamu noted that such development was also responsible for the shortfall in meeting the needs of employers of labour.
According to him, most of the training taking place in the non-formal sector have not been coordinated, standardised and regulated despite their tremendous contributions to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“In order to address these shortcomings therefore, the ministry is poised to fast-track the institutionalisation of the NSQF.
“It is also going to strengthen linkages between the training providers and the industry, as well as promote demand-driven skills training and standardise quality assured training in the non-formal sectors of the economy,’’ Adamu said.
The minister pointed out that these formed the response to the 21st-century global trend and demand for functional competencies by the industries and employers in the world of work.
He added:“As a prime mover in the educational sector, the ministry is of the view that the Nigerian economy is tied to the world economy.
“As a result, there is need to adequately restructure our skills training and assessment processes to be able to meet the emerging aspiration in a competitive changing global economy.
“There is also the need to incorporate the concept of currency in our qualifications guide in the midst of rapidly changing technological development.
“The upgrading and emergence of new qualification and the disintegration of older qualification into new and more functional units must also be considered.’’
Adamu lauded the NBTE and its partners for spearheading the institutionalisation of the NSQF, which according to him, was expected to address some of the skills challenges in the country’s economy.
Earlier, Dr Masaudu Kazaure, Executive Secretary, NBTE, said skills form the bedrock of every country’s economy.
He said that they were not only linked to aggregate economic performance but also to each individual’s success in the labour market.
Kazaure, however, noted that having skills was not enough to achieve growth, both for a country and for an individual.
Skills, he said, must be put to productive use at work.
According to him, one of the major challenges in the acquisition of skills in the country is the fact that educational emphasis was shifted from competency to paper qualifications, resulting to oversubscription of the universities.
He said that the disconnection of the educational institutions from the industries and the world of work, thus placing less emphasis on the manpower needs of the industry, was also disturbing.
Kazaure said that assessment and evaluation processes in the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions, remained largely academic in spite of global trend towards industry-based standards.
“The reform initiatives on skills development in Nigeria will have a major impact on the life and work of individuals, employers and the nation in general if individuals meet their ambitions for personal development.
“In the same way, employers will meet their needs for a more responsive and competitive economy.
“However, we need a strong political will and national resources to support it,’’ the NBTE boss said